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De obeständiga religionerna: Om kollektiva självmord och frälsning i Peoples Temple, Ordre du Temple Solaire och Heaven's Gate
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, Comparative Religion and Gender Studies.
Responsible organisation
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Peoples Temple, Ordre du Temple Solaire and Heaven’s Gate, three religious groups that have in common that they all ended in collective suicide. Explanations why these groups came to end in such a tragic way vary, but focus is primarily put on conflict, charismatic leadership, isolation, and apocalyptic worldviews. This perspective tends to ignore the groups’ own worldview and soteriology as a part of their history.

A focus on these groups’ worldviews and paths to salvation offers a new way of understanding them and their way of life. The main part of the thesis is devoted to an examination of the groups’ own ways of thinking and their way to salvation. A three step model is used asking; 1) what they believed was wrong with the world they were living in, 2) what they expected to be the salvation for mankind, and 3) how this could be achieved. The suggestion is that an understanding of the groups’ conceptions of salvation is a major part of any explaining of their dramatic endings.

This conclusion is problematized using a model for analyzing members ideological knowledge. The group members can be roughly put into three categories; 1) the well informed, 2) adherents, and 3) the uninformed. These categories are used to analyze how insight into the worldviews affected the members in their readiness to follow the group to its final end.

The three groups are often lumped together because it is believed that they have something in common that caused their final acts, but a thorough examination of the groups clearly shows three different kinds of groups with different worldviews, ways of thinking and members.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för etnologi, religionshistoria och genusstudier , 2008. , 288 p.
Keyword [en]
new religious movements, collective suicide, salvation, sects, cults, Peoples Temple, Ordre du Temple Solaire, Heaven’s Gate
National Category
History of Religions
Research subject
History of Religion
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8152ISBN: 978-91-7155-719-3OAI: diva2:199703
Public defence
2008-09-22, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2008-09-01 Created: 2008-09-01Bibliographically approved

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